Inimai Chettiar

Contact Info

Brennan Center for Justice
New York University School of Law
161 Avenue of the Americas, 12th Floor
New York, New York  10013

(646) 292-8315 

Inimai M. Chettiar

Director, Justice Program, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law 

Inimai M. Chettiar is the Director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. The Justice Program seeks to secure our nation’s promise of “equal justice for all” by creating an effective, rational and fair legal system. It proposes and works to enact data-driven policy and legal reforms aimed at two main goals: ending mass incarceration and closing the justice gap for low-income Americans.

Ms. Chettiar focuses on using economics and cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate that helping struggling communities can help the country as a whole achieve economic and social prosperity. She is listed in the national directory as a Top Wonk in criminal justice, economic policy, and race and economics. Her scholarship focuses on viewing policies as investments that lawmakers should evaluate based on what economic and societal benefits they produce. She received this training at NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity, where she led litigation and policy projects using cost-benefit analysis to reform a variety of federal laws.

Most recently, Ms. Chettiar applied these practices to achieve criminal justice reform while at the American Civil Liberties Union. She was one of the lead architects of the organization’s nationwide Initiative to End Overincarceration. She created comprehensive state legislative strategies, authored legislation to reduce prison populations and costs and helped create national and local bipartisan coalitions to successfully enact legislation.

Ms. Chettiar also served as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she ledpro bono cases on racial justice and criminal law. She was also a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Lawrence M. McKenna at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Her reform efforts and publications have been featured in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Atlantic,, NPR, Bloomberg BusinessWeekThe Guardian, Forbes,and other outlets. She has published extensive scholarship on economic and fiscal policy, criminal law reform, and racial inequalities. In 2011, she was selected by the Center for American Progress as a Leadership Fellow for her groundbreaking leadership on the legal intersection of race and economics.

Ms. Chettiar holds a B.A. cum laude in political science and psychology from Georgetown University and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago School of Law, where she served as Comment Editor of The Law Review. She is a member of the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis and American Correctional Association, and sits on the U.S. Department of Justice Pretrial Justice Task Force and the American Law Institute Model Penal Code Committee, which drafts model criminal codes for enactment in states.


• Fellow, Center for American Progress, 2011-2012 
• Policy Counsel, National American Civil Liberties Union Initiative to End Overincarceration,  2010-2012 
• Legal Fellow, Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law,  2008-2010 
• Judicial Law Clerk, Hon. Lawrence M. McKenna, U.S. District Court for S.D.N.Y., 2005-2006 
• Litigation Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton,2003-2008  
• Department of Justice, Antitrust Division Appellate Section, 1999-2000


J.D., cum laude, University of Chicago Law School, 2003
B.A., cum laude, Political Science and Psychology, Georgetown University, 1998

Additional Issues: Cost-Benefit Analysis, Civil Justice,Court Systems, Criminal Justice Reform, Mass Incarceration, Pre-trial Incarceration, Public Defense, Racial Disparities, Racial Justice, Sentencing Reform

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